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On Thursday, May 9, 2024, the Department of Justice announced the formation of a new task force to guide antitrust enforcement in the healthcare industry. The body, named the Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion (HCMC), is housed within DOJ’s Antitrust Division and directed by longtime DOJ antitrust prosecutor Katrina Rouse.

New Taskforce, New Website

According to the DOJ press release, the HCMC will “consider widespread competition concerns” of patients, healthcare professionals, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Highlighted areas include “payer-provider consolidation, serial acquisitions, labor and quality of care, medical billing, healthcare IT services, [and] access to and misuse of health care data.” The task force will be composed of civil and criminal prosecutors, along with economists, industry experts, and other policy advisors.

A new website was also announced, providing an avenue for the public to share information about competition concerns in the healthcare industry.

Practical Effect on Enforcement?

It is too soon to tell whether the new HCMC will have any tangible effect on antitrust enforcement in the healthcare industry. Such task forces are nothing new to DOJ, as various types of task forces and similar initiatives have existed for years in varying areas from gun crime to elder care to corporate crime to narcotics interdiction.

But the focus on the healthcare industry is little surprise, as the healthcare industry has long been DOJ’s most targeted industry in both criminal and civil enforcement. At a minimum, the new HCMC may signal increased focus on healthcare in the antitrust sphere and increased resources to pursue such investigations.